16-Year-Old Pa. Racer Having Quite a Summer
While his peers were skateboarding, shooting hoops or hanging out at the mall, Redmond was making a 1,140-mile round trip each week from his home in northwestern Pennsylvania to Charlotte Motor Speedway to compete in the Bandolero Outlaws division of the Hardee's Summer Shootout.
"This is my first year racing in the Lucas Oil Bandolero Outlaws division at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and I won three of the first four races," Redmond said proudly. "Charlotte has the best drivers in the Bandolero Outlaws and I consider this a great accomplishment."
Looking past his success on the race track, it is easy to see Redmond is not a typical teenager.
"I attend Erie County Technical School now while I am in high school. I spend half of the day taking courses at my high school and the other half taking courses in automotive technology at the community college," he said. "I will graduate from high school and college the same year."
In what little free time he does have, Redmond takes part in the United States Naval Sea Cadet Core, a military training program for individuals ages 14 to 18.
"The program is basically the Naval reserve, but you don't have to be 18 to join. We do a lot of bookwork on the Navy and learn how all of the stuff works on the ships," Redmond explained. "The program helps to prepare you for a military career."
As part of the cadet program, Redmond spent two weeks at the Pax River Naval Air Station in Maryland learning about a possible career as a Navy pilot.
"I enjoy putting on a good show for people and racing is definitely a lot more exciting than flying," he said. "But flying is sort of my back-up plan if racing doesn't pan out in the future. In fact, I chose the No. 18 for my car, because it is the number off a jet fighter."
Traveling long distances to races is nothing new for Redmond and his family as they normally log about 12,000 highway miles each year.
"This summer on Mondays we travel from home in Pennsylvania to Charlotte, which is a 10-and-a-half-hour drive. Then on Wednesdays we leave Charlotte and head back home for a few days," Redmond said. "On Fridays, we head to Lake Erie Speedway (North East, Pa.), and then to Kentucky for races on Saturdays and Sundays.
"Charlotte Motor Speedway is my favorite track because it is a really fun track. It's a driver's track," he continued. "You can compensate for the handling of the car and that helps develop the driver's skill. Your car doesn't have to be perfect to win and that's one of the reasons I am doing so well this year."
Even though television cameras are recording the Hardee's Summer Shootout action and the pit area is sprinkled each week with NASCAR drivers and team owners, Redmond says nerves are never a problem.
"I stay so busy that I don't have time to get nervous. Sometimes when I look back after a race I might say to myself, that was a close call, but I don't get nervous during a race," he said.
In fact, the only thing that makes Redmond nervous is securing enough financial backing to continue his racing career.
"We are looking for a local company or a corporate sponsor in and around Charlotte that would be willing to sponsor me. We travel so much that money is definitely an issue," he concluded.
Fans can watch Redmond and several other young drivers that have NASCAR aspirations each Tuesday night through Aug. 16 at Charlotte Motor Speedway's Hardee's Summer Shootout. The action-packed racing program features three divisions of Legends Cars, three classes of Bandoleros and the popular Thunder Roadsters.
Admission is just $5 for adults. Children 6 to 12 are admitted for $3 with kids under 6 free. Tickets are available in advance at the speedway ticket office and at Gates 4 and 5 the night of the event. Parking is free. Contact the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com for information.
Spectator gates open at 5 p.m. with preliminary action at 5:30 p.m. Feature racing begins at 7:30 p.m. and is scheduled to conclude by 10:15 p.m.